Nissan’s new Z-car?
Does the tall, pointy Gripz concept point to the 370Z’s replacement?
That’s not a sports car. That’s an SUV-thing.
Correct. Specifically it’s a Nissan ‘Gripz’ SUV-thing, a concept unveiled at the Frankfurt show and heralded by its creators as a “radical sports crossover.”
I don’t want a sports crossover. I want a sports…non-crossover.
Too bad. You’re in the minority. High-riding hatches are where it’s at nowadays. Seventy percent of Nissans sold in the UK are now SUV-themed—with the Qashqai and the Juke accounting for the majority of sales—so fast crossovers will increasingly become less oddity and more necessity. At the same time, the market for beefy, big-engined two-seat sports cars is rather less burgeoning.
Beefy, big-engined two-seat sports cars like the amazing 370Z?
Exactly. Which might explain why Nissan is dropping not-so-subtle hints that the Gripz previews its next generation Z-car. As well as that cheeky ‘z’ at the end of its name, the official blurb proudly attests the Gripz “blends the practicality of a compact crossover with the performance of a sports car” and previews “a new sporty direction for crossovers.”
240Z, 280ZX, 350Z, 370Z…Gripz. Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
Apparently the Gripz’s design pays homage to the jacked-up 240Z that won the East African Safari Rally in 1971, a rally-raider Nissan describes as the firstever crossover. As connections go, it’s hopeful.
So Z’s dead?
Not for a while, at least. The Gripz concept is officially described as a design statement rather than a replacement for any existing model: Nissan bosses told us the Gripz was a glimpse into the firm’s future of performance, rather than a direct preview of their next Z-car. “There is no urgency in 370Z,” product planning chief Philippe Klein told us. “It’s still a good asset for the company. It has a good customer base.”
So long as the next Z has a fat, naturally aspirated V6 under the hood, I’ll live with this crossover nonsense.
Unlikely, we fear. The Gripz is powered by a petrolelectric range extender, with Nissan acknowledging the ‘constraints’ of economy and CO2 suffered by modern sports cars. When we asked Klein if the next Z car could go turbo, he admitted Nissan was “open and considering all different options”. We sadly suspect the days of the 370Z’s 3.7-liter V6 are limited.